4 hours ago

Are there more food banks than McDonald's restaurants in the UK?

There’s a claim circling today that there are more food banks in the UK than McDonald’s restaurants. Based on the figures we’ve seen, it is accurate.

There are approximately 1300 McDonald’s restaurants in the UK, according to the company

A recent report by the House Of Commons Library found that there are at least 2000 food banks in the UK. This figure is an underestimate, as it primarily comes from the Trussell Trust and the Independent Food Aid Network, and does not include every type of food bank, such as food banks operating in schools.

One of the Twitter posts also attempted to show food bank growth. According to the figures in one report from the Trussell Trust, the tweet underestimates food bank numbers in 2011 at least, and again, it’s likely there are non-Trussell food banks not accounted for.

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1 day, 4 hours ago

Answering listeners' questions on talkRADIO

Our Chief Executive, Will Moy, spoke to Alexis Conran on talkRADIO this lunchtime talking about our latest fact checks this election.

One listener wanted to know about claims on tree planting this election. We’ve previously put Labour’s policy to plant two billion new trees by 2040 into context. In short: it’s not an unprecedented task to plant enough trees per day, and perhaps the bigger question is where they would be planted. As a very rough estimate, Labour’s plan would cover around 5% of current UK land.

We were also asked about whether EU rules would stop the UK for nationalising utilities. We haven’t looked at this question in detail, but legal commentator David Allen Green has argued that EU rules don’t prohibit this. At the same time, rules on regulation could restrict what practical changes can be made, and human rights laws (importantly, not from the EU) could require companies affected to be adequately compensated.

We covered several claims from our fact check of the BBC’s debate between Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson on Friday, including whether the UK is the world’s 5th richest country (it’s the 6th or the 9th largest in terms of GDP) and whether the EU is stopping the UK from having “free ports” (it isn’t).

We also talked about how much the NHS is spending on private providers. This has been rising historically but if anything has stayed flat in recent years.

Child poverty claims also came up, and we confirmed that, according to the main measures of poverty, about four million children in the UK live in relative low income, and that figure could rise to about 4.6 million if you factor in other costs people face too, according to the independent Social Metrics Commission.

And on police officers, the Conservatives’ pledge to increase officer numbers by 20,000 would almost offset the fall in officers in England and Wales since 2010, but won’t bring numbers per person back to its recent peak in the mid-2000s.

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1 day, 4 hours ago

Boris Johnson doesn’t know how many kids were born under his watch

In an interview with the Sunday Times today, Boris Johnson predicted that “Romance will bloom across the whole nation once we get Brexit done”, claiming that “There was [a baby boom] after the Olympics, as I prophesied in a speech in 2012, it was quite amazing. There was a big baby boom.”

Now we cannot pass comment on whether the planned departure from the EU (two weeks before Valentine’s Day, no less) will lead to a flurry of births come autumn. 

But we do know that Mr Johnson is wrong in saying there was a post-Olympics baby boom. In fact the exact opposite happened. 

In 2012 there were 730,000 births in England and Wales, which fell to 699,000 in 2013, down 4.3%. In London specifically, the fall was almost identical - 4.4%

This meant that the year after the Olympics, which Mr Johnson said saw a baby boom following all the expected summer 2012 amoureuse, actually saw the largest fall in the number of births in 38 years

So how has Mr Johnson got it so wrong? Well, back in 2012 when he was Mayor of London, Mr Johnson told his statisticians to model the number of London births to test his theory.

The statisticians results predicted a sizeable increase in births. This was then proved to be not the case when the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published actual birth statistics (not models) in 2014. 

As for why the birth rate dropped so significantly, various theories were proposed. The ONS suggested the precariousness of the jobs market and changes to benefits may have been factors. 

Professor of Geography at Oxford Danny Dorling suggested that the change is less to do with why the number fell in 2013, but rather why it grew through the 2000s. He suggests it was a result of more women choosing to have children later in life from the 1990s onwards.

But perhaps the fall in births is a direct consequence of the British public spending a summer watching marble-carved demigods run, leap, and twirl in flattering dappled sunlight, and so finding their own partners somehow wanting. We may never know.

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4 days, 4 hours ago

Party political literature: always read the label

On our quest to find party political literature passing itself off as newspapers and magazines, our attention has been drawn to this pamphlet from the Conservatives. ‘You & your family’ bears more than a passing resemblance to real life mags like Pick me up and Chat, albeit with a political twist.



We wrote about political parties churning out fake local newspapers yesterday, and as with many of those examples, this pamphlet only seems to indicate that it originates from a political party in the small print at the bottom of the front page. And if they’re thinking of making this a regular feature, there is already a parenting magazine in the USA that shares the name.

Props to First Draft for finding this one. Please do tweet or email us at team@fullfact.org if you spot any more.

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4 days, 4 hours ago

Sajid Javid on homelessness

This morning on Sky News, Sajid Javid claimed that homelessness had fallen by half following a 2008 peak under Labour.

This does not seem correct. Homelessness in England was about the same in 2017 as in 2008, and has risen since 2010, by the main measure.

We’ve asked the Conservatives whether Mr Javid was referring to something else.

We’ll publish a full fact check shortly.

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